Ethel Ayler

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Ethel Ayler
Ethel Ayler.jpg
Ethel Ayler in 1957
Born 1934 (age 79–80)
Whistler, Alabama, U.S.
Occupation actor
Years active 1957–present

Ethel Ayler (born 1934) is a veteran African-American character actress with a career spanning over five decades.

Biography[edit]

Ethel Ayler and Melvin Stewart, as Zirata and Simple (respectively) in "Simply heavenly"

Ayler was born in Whistler, Alabama in 1934. In 1957, she made her off-Broadway debut in the Langston Hughes musical, Simply Heavenly.[1] Later that year, she debuted on Brodway in the multiple Tony Award-nominated musical, Jamaica as an understudy for Lena Horne (also making her Broadway debut).[2]

Another notable early performance was in Jean Genet's play, The Blacks: A Clown Show, which ran off-Broadway for 1,408 performances and received three Obie Awards including for Best New Play. The impressive cast of black actors included three future Academy Award nominees: James Earl Jones, Cicely Tyson and Louis Gossett, Jr..[3]

Throughout her career, Ayler has appeared frequently with the Negro Ensemble Company. This includes notable performances in The First Breeze of Summer,[4] Eden[5] and Nevis Mountain Dew.[6]

On television, Ayler had a recurring role as Carrie Hanks, Claire Huxtable's mother on The Cosby Show. She has also made memorable performances in the films To Sleep with Anger (1990) and Eve's Bayou (1997).

For her work in To Sleep with Anger, Ayler received an Independent Spirit Award nomination for best supporting female.[7]

Ayler's most recent Broadway appearance was in another Tony-nominated production, The Little Foxes in 1997.[8]

Selected credits[edit]

Theatre[edit]

Year Production Role Theatre(s) Notes
1997 The Little Foxes[8][9] Addie Vivian Beaumont Theater
1987 Fences[10][11] Bono
Gabriel
Rose (understudy)
46th Street Theatre
1983 Sons and Fathers of Sons[12] Sister 3 Theatre Four
1981 Weep Not for Me[13] Lillian Hendricks Theatre Four
1978 Nevis Mountain Dew[6] Zepora Philibert St. Mark's Playhouse
1976 Eden[5] Florie St. Mark's Playhouse
1975 The First Breeze of Summer[4][14] Hattie St. Mark's Playhouse Also appeared in the 1976 Movie of the Week.
Black Picture Show[15] Rita (understudy) Vivian Beaumont Theater
1974 Les Femmes Noires[16] Mrs. Thompson The Other Stage
1961 Kwamina[17] Naii 54th Street Theatre
The Blacks: A Clown Show[3] Augustus Snow St. Mark's Playhouse
1960 The Cool World[18] Woman at the Beach Eugene O'Neill Theatre
1957 Jamaica[2] Island Woman
Islander
Savannah (understudy)
Imperial Theatre
Simply Heavenly[1] Zarita 85th Street Playhouse

Film[edit]

Year Film Role Notes
1997 Eve's Bayou Gran Mere
1992 The Bodyguard Emma
1990 To Sleep with Anger Hattie Independent Spirit Award nomination, Best Supporting Female[7]
1986 9½ Weeks Jewelry Saleswoman
1972 Come Back, Charleston Blue Matron at Ball
1962 Time of the Heathen Marie

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Simply Heavenly". New York, New York: Lortel Archives: The Internet off-Broadway Database. Retrieved 2009-12-03. 
  2. ^ a b "Jamaica". New York, New York: Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 2009-12-03. 
  3. ^ a b "The Blacks: A Clown Show". New York, New York: Lortel Archives: The Internet off-Broadway Database. Retrieved 2009-12-03. 
  4. ^ a b "The First Breeze of Summer". New York, New York: Lortel Archives: The Internet off-Broadway Database. Retrieved 2009-12-03. 
  5. ^ a b "Eden". New York, New York: Lortel Archives: The Internet off-Broadway Database. Retrieved 2009-12-03. 
  6. ^ a b "Nevis Mountain Dew". New York, New York: Lortel Archives: The Internet off-Broadway Database. Retrieved 2009-12-03. 
  7. ^ a b "Film Independent's Spirit Awards: 2009 – Twenty-Four Years of Nominees and Winners" (PDF). Los Angeles: Film Independent. p. 31. 
  8. ^ a b "The Little Foxes". New York, New York: Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 2009-12-03. 
  9. ^ "The Little Foxes". New York, New York: Internet Theatre Database. Retrieved 2009-12-03. 
  10. ^ "Fences". New York, New York: Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 2009-12-03. 
  11. ^ "Fences". New York, New York: Internet Theatre Database. Retrieved 2009-12-03. 
  12. ^ "Sons and Fathers of Sons". New York, New York: Lortel Archives: The Internet off-Broadway Database. Retrieved 2009-12-03. 
  13. ^ "Weep Not for Me". New York, New York: Lortel Archives: The Internet off-Broadway Database. Retrieved 2009-12-03. 
  14. ^ "The First Breeze of Summer". New York, New York: Internet Theatre Database. Retrieved 2009-12-03. 
  15. ^ "Black Picture Show". New York, New York: Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 2009-12-03. 
  16. ^ "Les Femmes Noires". New York, New York: Lortel Archives: The Internet off-Broadway Database. Retrieved 2009-12-03. 
  17. ^ "Kwamina". New York, New York: Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 2009-12-03. 
  18. ^ "The Cood World". New York, New York: Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 2009-12-03. 

External links[edit]